At 8am, I woke with a start, as I remembered that middle son needed to go to work and he also hadn't been at home, when I had gone to bed last night. I checked his bedroom and the rest of the house, but he was nowhere to be found. My mind wandered, as I considered the difficulties of sharing house and home with a grown up family, who could not yet afford homes of their own. My 2 eldest sons were aged 25 and 23, so they were mostly free to come and go as they pleased and they led their own lives. I didn't wait up for them, if they were late home after an evening out, but they knew that if they spontaneously decided to spend the night elsewhere, they were supposed to text or ring, either the same night, or the next morning. After all, I needed to know when to call out the emergency services, organise the dragging of local rivers and canals, and when to alert the Prime Minister and Interpol.
It was possible, of course, that middle son had told my husband that he hadn't intended to come home last night, but had forgotten to tell me. It was another problem that we sometimes encountered, because, to a certain extent, as an adult family, we tended to resemble 'ships that passed in the night'. I didn't feel that it was any longer fair, or practical, to demand that we all met up for at least one meal a week. There were conflicting working hours, friends, girlfriends and other engagements to be taken into account. We met up whenever it was possible. It had to suffice. Group conversations, involving the whole family, were a rarity, but bewildering conversations between 2 family members were inevitably quite common, such as the one I had with my eldest son during the past week:
'Where's younger brother?' asked eldest son. 'I haven't heard his music for a couple of days.'
'He's on an outward bound course, this week' I replied. 'It's to do with his new job.'
'Has he got a new job? When did he start that, then?' eldest son enquired.
'A couple of weeks ago' I replied.
'Does he not work for the well-known High Street store, where he could get 30% discount off cds, DVDs and video games, any more, then?' asked eldest son, with a hint of rising panic in his voice.
'He's still working there at weekends' I answered.
Eldest son audibly heaved a sigh of relief and said somewhat grumpily as he left the room, 'Nobody tells me anything around here!'
My husband didn't know where middle son was, either, so I considered the possibilities:
- He could be lying in the gutter, somewhere.
- He could be in hospital.
- He could be at the police station.
- He could be at a friend's house.
I hoped that he wasn't lying in the gutter anywhere, because it could mean that his mobile 'phone had been stolen and I would have to expend a fair amount of energy, walking the streets in search of him. The nearest A & E departments were actually quite close and would require less effort to reach, than the local police 'lock-up'. Then again, if one of the police officers happened to be driving out in this direction, he/she might be kind enough to drop off middle son, after his night in the cells. I would then be free to indulge in my usual Sunday morning pastime of relaxing in my comfy armchair, enjoying a cup of caffeine and watching BBC 24 hour news, on Sky Tv. I shook myself out of my reverie, guiltily dismissing my uncharitable thoughts.
The most likely scenario was that middle son had stayed at someone's house. He was due to start work at 10am and needed an hour's travelling time. If I texted him at 8.20am, it would serve the dual purpose of waking him and assuring me that he was alright. He would, hopefully, have enough time to walk home, shower and still arrive at work on time. There was also the possibility that he had forgotten to put his watch forward an hour, which served to fully convince me that I definitely needed to text him at 8.20am.
I interrupted my breakfast to text middle son and remind him of the time. He rang almost immediately and told me, in a voice thick with sleep, that he didn't have to be at work until 11am and that he had stayed at his relatively new girlfriend's house the previous night. He thanked me, most politely, in the circumstances, I felt, and said that he would see me shortly. I remembered, rather belatedly, that for the last 12 months, he had regularly started work at 10am on a Saturday and 11am on a Sunday. Oops!
I showered and dressed, then remembered that student son had brought home his bedclothes, from his room, to be washed. I had washed them with the rest of our bedclothes and now they were all mixed up together, in the airing cupboard. With sinking heart, I realised, that I needed to try and recover them. I tentatively opened the cupboard door and, the speed with which the contents leapt out and overpowered me, took my breath away. A fitted sheet adorned my head, draped at a rather rakish angle over my right eye, whilst pillowcases and duvet covers clung around my ankles. It was glaringly obvious that I'd been blessed with none of the organisational skills of Anthea Turner.
I picked up a duvet cover and clutched it to my chest, gazing, eyes unfocused, as I inwardly bemoaned the fact that there were no decent cupboards in our house. The previous occupants had knocked out the one under the stairs. We had small kitchen cupboards, a few fitted wardrobes and 2 double beds with drawers, but that was the limit. At one time, I had kept the bedclothes in the drawers under the beds, but I had now filled up the drawers with other crap, so the bedclothes had to be stuffed into the airing cupboard.
I thought enviously of the 2 bedroomed house into which my parents had moved a few years ago. It had 3 walk-in double cupboards and 4 walk-in single cupboards. It must have been designed by a woman. When they moved, after 50 years of living in the same house, my parents got rid of possessions, which they later wished they had kept and kept things for which they had no need. They resolved never, to collect and store crap, ever again, but 5 years later, they have been 100% successful in filling their precious, enviable and significantly spacious cupboards with more crap. I definitely needed more cupboards, so that I could store more crap!
I forced my self to concentrate on the matter in hand and began sorting through the fitted sheets. I couldn't tell the doubles from the singles, as usual. The pale blue singles wouldn't fit student son's extra deep mattress, so he needed the darker blue, or perhaps it was the other way around? Sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers flew through the air in all directions, as I resolved to buy all of my bedclothes from John Lewis in future. They pandered to their spatially-challenged, or disorganised customers, in the most delightful way, by labelling their fitted sheets 'double' and 'single'. Awesome! I wondered whether they labelled their socks 'left' and 'right'.
I finally found student son's bedclothes and put them in his bedroom, ready for him to pack. I kicked his bed and shook the headboard, but he still didn't stir. We would be late leaving if he didn't wake up soon. After a long week of deliberation, we had decided that we would leave the house at 10am to take student son back to uni(versity). I had excelled all previous efforts by being ready to leave at 10.30am, but student son was still nowhere near ready. He had been out until 4am, apparently and didn't seem to be in any hurry to pack and leave the house.
When I reminded him that we'd originally intended to leave at 10am, he claimed that we'd never told him we intended to leave at that time and, when I thought back, I realised that he was right! My husband and I had agreed the time between ourselves, completely forgetting that he hadn't been present at the time!
We had some lunch and finally left home at about 3.30pm, after agreeing that we would have a pub' meal, before returning home. The journey was uneventful, but when we arrived at student son's accommodation, I remarked upon the peace and quiet. There were hardly any cars in the car park. No-one was wandering around with 2 months' dirty washing, trying to remember the exact location of the launderette, or staggering around, arms piled high with lager and crisps, trying to recall the exact location of last night's party. 'Everyone else has another 2 weeks' holiday' explained student son. 'It's only the students on my course, who had to return, today.
There are about 10 blocks of student flats on the site where student son lives. We were surprised to discover that he would be virtually alone in his block for the next 2 weeks. There would inevitably be a few international students scattered around the site and there would be some other students, from his learning group, in the neighbouring block, but he would remain alone on his floor, as far as we could tell. Apparently, student son had told his brother that he would be alone for 2 weeks, but had forgotten to mention it to us and, suddenly, we understood why he'd been in no particular hurry to return!
I've spoken with him, on a few occasions, during the past week and he has had no problems with his isolation, except for a few odd noises now and again, which could always be blamed on other students, when there were other students in the neighbouring rooms.
A narrow corridor runs outside his room and leading off it, there are 6 other student rooms, a kitchen, sluice, 2 toilets and a shower room. There are locked doors at both ends of the corridor, for which each student has a key. Student son informed me, during one of our telephone conversations, that he had been enjoying the freedom of wandering naked between the shower and his bedroom, whilst there was no-one else around. I opened my mouth with the intention of pointing out that he should be careful of the cleaners, who continued to work throughout the holidays, albeit in a limited capacity. I suddenly changed my mind, however, and clamped my mouth firmly shut. After all, it would be a grave error of judgement on my part, to risk depriving myself of potentially amusing material for any future blogs!